Green Space Is Good For Your Mental Health from Natural Blaze
- First study to demonstrate relationship between green space and mental wellbeing at an individual level published
- Using data from 25,518 people, the researchers show that Londoners who live within 300m of green space have significantly better mental wellbeing
- Proximity to green space was more important than lifestyle factors such as employment, income, and general health.
- It is hoped that planners will use the results to help create a healthier, happier and more productive urban landscape.
Living within 300m of urban green space such as parks, nature reserves or play areas is associated with greater happiness, sense of worth, and life satisfaction – according to a new study by researchers at the University of Warwick, Newcastle University and the University of Sheffield.
It has long been understood that individuals feel positive emotions when exposed to natural environments, and successive Governments have enshrined this in planning guidance – but how much green space is needed and how close does it need to be to people’s homes to make a difference?
Dr Victoria Houlden, Professor Joao Porto de Albuquerque, Professor Scott Weich and Professor Stephen Jarvis set out to apply new geospatial research techniques to create an accurate measure of the relationship between green space and 3 different aspects of mental wellbeing.
Most previous studies have only been able to take into account the overall amount of green space within a specific area, rather than the exact amount of green space that surrounds an individual’s home, and have found mixed results.
By combining survey responses from 25,518 participants in the UK government’s Annual Population Survey (APS) with data on the shape, size and location of London’s 20,000 public green spaces, the team were able to more accurately model greenspace distribution in relation to where each of the 25,518 survey participants lived, and explore how that influenced their mental wellbeing as revealed in their survey answers.
The study, published in the August issue of Applied Geography, found:-
- Overall there is a very strong relationship between the amount of green space around a person’s home and their feelings of life satisfaction, happiness and self-worth
- Green space within 300m of home had the greatest influence on mental wellbeing
- An increase of 1 hectare – about the size of an international Rugby Union pitch – within 300m of residents was associated with an increase of 8 percentage points in a life satisfaction, 7 in worth and 5 in happiness.
- Green space was less important for mental wellbeing in Central London and East London
Dr Houlden said: “We believe this it is the first study to demonstrate how urban greenspaces may improve a broader definition of mental wellbeing.
“A lot of research focuses on poor mental health, or single aspects of wellbeing like life satisfaction. What makes our work different is the way we consider multi-dimensional mental wellbeing, in terms of happiness, life satisfaction and worth.”
“While government guidelines recommend minimum amounts of greenspace in residential developments, our study was able to establish more specifically where greenspace may be most valuable.”